Looking at College Football’s Best Offensive, Defensive PPG

Now that we are a month into the season, I thought we would take another step back and look at the kind of season that is shaping up for us. I already wrote about some of the biggest overachievers and underachievers thus far. But from an analytical standpoint, I collected points per game data from every game this season to see who is averaging the most points per game offensively, the fewest defensively, and who has the highest average scoring margin. Let’s get to it!

Offense

10. Nebraska (44 PPG through 4 games)

Adrian Martinez’s Heisman campaign has some serious weight to it this year. JD Spielman has been outstanding in the slot.

9. LSU (45.5 PPG through 4 games)

Joe Burrow who? Tigers offense has hardly regressed at all with Myles Brennan.. Also returning Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase helps an awful lot. Shoutout to the O-line as well, who has kept Brennan clean thus far.

8. Minnesota (45.8 PPG through 4 games)

Rashod Bateman has emerged as top 5 receiver in the country and junior Chris Autman-Bell has filled Tyler Johnson’s shoes wonderfully. Tanner Morgan still isn’t turning the ball over either. Gophers are dangerous.

7. TCU (46 PPG through 3 games)

Yes a weak schedule so far, but Max Duggan has found his footing in Fort Worth. He and his inexperienced line headlined by center Coy McMillon will face much tougher tests ahead.

6. Oklahoma State (48.3 PPG through 3 games)

The Cowboy O has lived up to the lofty preseason expectations thus far. Chuba Hubbard is a top of the ballot Heisman contender, and a trip to New York seems very likely. Spencer Sanders has looked light years better in his sophomore season. Star receivers Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner are getting their touches as well.

5. Clemson (49.3 PPG through 4 games)

Trevor Lawrence is probably the best quarterback in the country. His stats have not shown quite that dominance, however. Luckily, he has been out of the game at halftime in most of Clemson’s games thus far. Travis Etienne is getting boat loads of yards thus far. Clemson should keep rolling in the ACC. Just stay healthy.

4. Alabama (49.8 PPG through 4 games)

No Tua, no problem. Mac Jones looked like much more than a game manager against one of the nation’s top defenses in Georgia. Najee Harris has been outstanding, as have Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Tide keep reloading.

3. Texas A&M (50.5 PPG through 4 games)

This one snuck up on me, but it gives me hope that the Aggies could contend with the big boys in the SEC West. The schedule has been soft, but they are demolishing these teams. Kellen Mond is making his claim for top QB in the conference early on.

2. Texas Tech (51.5 PPG through 4 games)

This should surprise no one. The Red Raiders are always known for their offense and two years in, it is no different under Matt Wells. Alan Bowman has the chance to break records if he stays all four years. Also, the only team on this list that has lost a game so far.

1. Ohio State (54 PPG through 4 games)

This scares me as a Big Ten fan that wants to see a new league champion. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes are absolutely loaded. Justin Fields has to be the Heisman front-runner at this point. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon has filled in magnificently out of the backfield. Tight end Luke Farrell already has five touchdown grabs. Buckeyes are scary good.

Defense

T-10. Minnesota (10.5 PPG through 4 games)

The Gopher D is obviously overshadowed by the offense, which makes sense after last season and all the talent this defense lost, including All-American Antoine Winfield Jr. However, Minnesota looks extremely strong thus far, led by corner Coney Durr who has forced 2 fumbles and has a pick already this year. If this keeps up, the Gophers will be prime contenders for the divison.

T-10. Texas A&M (10.5 PPG through 4 games)

The Aggies look dominant on defense so far. Coordinator Mike Elko always expects greatness from his linebackers in his 4-2-5 system, and have Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines lived up to those lofty expectations. They are tackling machines and ready to test the rest of the West.

T-8. Illinois (10.3 PPG through 3 games)

You read that correctly. Lovie Smith’s defensive experience might be starting to pay off. Illinois led the country in defensive touchdowns last season, but it has not been the turnovers that have helped them so much this year. It is flat-out shutting down the opponent. Linebacker Jake Hansen seems to be in the backfield every play so far this year.

T-8. Oklahoma (10.3 PPG through 3 games)

Is the Alex Grinch experiment working? Does OU have a GOOD defense? Oklahoma has already forced 10 turnovers through 3 games, 1 less than their entire 2019 total. A couple huge JUCO additions on the line have paid off as Perrion Winfrey and Joshua Ellison have fit right in. .

7. Pittsburgh (10 PPG through 4 games)

Pitt has yet to beat any world-beaters, but they have beaten some solid teams in low-scoring contests on their way to a 4-0 start. Pat Narduzzi’s defense is showing shades of what he had at Michigan State earlier this decade. Safety Paris Ford withdrew from the NFL draft to come back for his redshirt junior year, and it has paid off thus far, already registering 36 tackles.

6. Auburn (9 PPG through 4 games)

Auburn’s defense was hyped up as one of the tops in the nation coming in, and boy have they followed through on that. The front seven has been lights out, and nickelback Christian Tuitt is not only returning punts, but making extremely athletic plays on the ball in defense as well. He is breaking out in the SEC as a star.

5. LSU (8.5 PPG through 4 games)

Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has come in to run the LSU defense after previous coordinator Dave Aranda took the Baylor head gig. Cornerback Derek Stingley is no doubt a star in the making and he makes exciting plays all over the field. Also, LSU’s opponents simply cannot run the ball. The nose tackles Tyler SHelvin and Glen Logan are immovable objects in 2020.

4. Clemson (8 PPG through 4 games)

The Tiger defense looks unbeatable at the moment and they are led by the defensive energy generated by coordinator Brent Venables. Middle Linebacker James Skalski is the leader of the unit, and they have not missed a beat without last year’s Butkus Award winner Isaiah Simmons.

3. Florida (6.3 PPG through 4 games)

Florida in its first 4 games have shutout their opponent 3 times already! That leads to an impressive PPG allowed stat for sure. The new additions to the edge have been seamless transitions as Kyree Campbell anchors the front line. The Gator DB’s have been eating early on, turning the ball over left and right, and have carried Florida while the offense has been a bit inconsistent.

2. Duke (4.8 PPG through 4 games)

The Blue Devils have also pitched 3 shutouts, but these were 3 consecutive ones to open the year. They did lose a low-scoring game to Pitt last week but the Duke front has been ridiculous. They seem to hit the opposing QB every play, and it has resulted in rushed throws and plenty of interceptions. Corner Mark Gilbert is finally back from injury and already has 2 picks after missing most of the last 2 seasons.

1. Ohio State (3 PPG through 4 games)

Once again, the Buckeyes take the top spot here, and it’s no surprise. They have completely strangled opposing offenses despite losing all starters from last year’s lethal pass rush. The next great OSU DB is Shaun Wade, who has given up nothing this year. The senior linebacker trio of Baron Browning, Tuf Borland, and Pete Werner have been lights out also.

Overall PPG Differential

No analysis here. Just who they have played, and their next four games coming up, to see how sustainable their success may or may not be.

10. Penn State (+29.5 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

Kent State: W 68-6

at Virginia Tech: W 32-15

San Jose State: W 37-17

Northwestern: W 30-11

COMING UP:

at #8 Michgan

Iowa

Ohio State

at Indiana

9. Oklahoma State (+31.3 PPG Diff. through 3 games)

Oregon State: W 29-25

Tulsa: W 59-23

Western Illinois: W 57-3

COMING UP:

at #23 TCU

Iowa State

at Kansas

at Oklahoma

8. Auburn (+33.8 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

Alcorn State: W 66-0

vs. North Carolina: W 31-25

at Ole Miss: W 25-11

Southern Mississippi: W 49-0

COMING UP:

Kentucky

at Georgia

Texas A&M

at Mississippi State

7. Minnesota (+35.3 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

Florida Atlantic: W 44-3

Tennessee Tech: W 54-0

#19 Iowa: W 44-18

BYU: W 41-21

COMING UP:

at Maryland

at Wisconsin

Michigan

at Illinois

6. Texas Tech (+36.8 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

at UTEP: W 55-0

Alabama State: W 66-0

Arizona: W 54-27

at #23 Iowa State: L 31-32

COMING UP:

West Virginia

Baylor

Texas

at Oklahoma State

5. LSU (+37 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

UTSA: W 46-0

Texas: W 44-13

vs. Rice: W 48-7

Ole Miss: W 44-14

COMING UP:

Nicholls

at Florida

at Arkansas

Mississippi State

4. Alabama (+38.3 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

vs. #17 USC: W 38-16

Georgia State: W 59-10

#6 Georgia: W 42-20

Kent State: W 60-0

COMING UP:

at Ole Miss

at Arkansas

Mississippi State

at Tennessee

3. Texas A&M (+40 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

Abilene Christian: W 65-0

North Texas: W 46-3

Colorado: W 46-24

vs. Arkansas: W 45-15

COMING UP:

at Mississipppi State

Fresno State

at Auburn

at South Carolina

2. Clemson (+41.3 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

at Georgia Tech: W 53-0

Louisville: W 51-25

Akron: W 49-0

Virginia: W 44-7

COMING UP:

at Boston College

at Florida State

NC State

Syracuse

1. Ohio State (+51 PPG Diff. through 4 games)

Bowling Green: W 71-0

at #7 Oregon: W 42-3

Buffalo: W 40-0

Rutgers: W 63-9

COMING UP:

Iowa

at Michigan State

at Penn State

Nebraska

Whatever happens in the month ahead, I am sure we will see a lot of these numbers normalize and fluctuate, as tough tests await these playoff contenders.

-Scott

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